1. Foxygen – …And Star Power

A sprawling, acid fuelled vision of the 60’s. Foxygen’s double concept album rattles through every rock star trope, yet somehow still manages to subvert expectations. They easily inhabit the bodies of Lindsey Buckingham, Smokey Robinson and Mick Jagger, yet are avant-garde enough to still sound fresh. Songwriting as brilliant as it is inventive.

Chosen Track: How Can You Really

  1. Slow Club – Complete Surrender

The title gives it away, the duo clearly gave themselves totally to this album and the music on it: with no holding back, indie sensibilities merely pepper an album of pure Motown, with Rebecca Taylor’s vocals the star. Unafraid to be big, a bombastic horn section leads lush, comprehensive arrangements which make the sparser moments all the more fragilely beautiful.

Chosen Track: The Queen’s Nose

  1. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!

Making for a boiling pressure in your brain, the album tackles unknowable death in the same cartoonish, goofy manner. It’s a jazz-infused, Mario-sampling, hip hop scattergun, regularly feverish but regularly fun. From that first dipped toe into madness the next four tracks carve out space, gradually and seamlessly in a show of the virtuosity present throughout. With Fly Lo working his magic and a stellar cast of featured artists (Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Thundercat and Herbie Hancock) the album pulls you into its frenzied world, spitting you out at the end with only a vague, trippy memory of the last thirty nine minutes.

Chosen Track – Never Catch Me (ft. Kendrick Lamar)

  1. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

Opener “Jeopardy” sets the tone. Dark and threatening, the bloodlust of Killer Mike’s Travis Bickle style psychosis gives way to the metronome delivery of El-P which has an unnerving, serial-killer precision. They play the bad cop bad cop routine as Killer Mike spits molten lava, freeform, red hot. The whole record is one huge fuck you, to politicians red and blue, the prison system; if your big mouth can’t produce the flow required, you’re fair game too. Production is brutal and dark verses from both rappers are impossibly slick. Hip hop has always been ‘us against the world’ but here the bond is so tight and the tongues so sharp it might just be true.

Chosen Track – Blockbuster Night Part 1

  1. Bonobo – The North Borders

Sam Green (Bonobo) doesn’t stray too far from home on his fifth release. It’s still the down-tempo accompaniment to the sun slowly rising, and it’s still working the same animal magnetism that keeps you coming back for more. His affinity with the UK bass music scene shines through in tracks like “Emkay” (garage of which MJ Cole would be proud), but it’s the luscious, string laden arrangements which take the fore. “Sapphhire” and “Jets” benefit from twinkling harp in trip hop and hip hop mode respectively, and they lend great depth to “Heaven For the Sinner”, a ramshackle neo-soul. He may not have broken any barriers, but it’s as accomplished an album as you’re likely to see and full of soulful, bass heavy tracks guaranteed to soothe a sore head.

Chosen Track – Cirrus

  1. Ratking – So It Goes

Ratking are from New York. The album cover is a stylised vision of their hometown, almost a detailed schematic showing the underground, unknown New York only the rats know. But their sound hovers somewhere over the Atlantic, at times it sounds more grime than hip hop, taking influence from a much broader palate than your average east coast rappers. Opening with a treatise on how you shouldn’t expect a 23 year old rapper to sound like Biggie or Pac, they go on to break the mould taking New York as their muse; with an urban harshness but the same kind of brutalist beauty as the New York skyline. Chaotic production includes the sound of the city and its people, Insistent midi tones and an abstract, stream of consciousness flow. Hip hop (as you know it) is dead. So it goes.

Chosen Track – So Sick Stories (Feat. King Krule)

  1. The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads

Glasgow’s Amazing Snakeheads plod through a post-apocalyptic soundscape on their debut LP, predicting the coming of the end as they slowly circle the abyss. The whole album carries a barely veiled air of menace; hard edged Glaswegian cries are complimented by a stripped back, minimalist aesthetic and their pallid California-biker look. And just as the brutal blues-surf-punk of the first five tracks threatens to wear a little thin, the album segues into occultish, drug-fuelled Zutons territory that catches in the back of your throat and dares you to spit it back up.

Chosen Track – Every Guy Wants To Be Her Baby

  1. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time!

It sounds like it looks. The album artwork is lounge suited, cartoonish and bright; a space based disco which sits somewhere between Giorgio Moroder and lift music. It’s kitsch with a knowing wink. Freed from all inhibitions he sashays through a jittery salsa on ‘Svensk Sås’, a rum fuelled Havanan barrio on ‘Alfonso Muskedunder’ and his trademark cosmic disco on ‘Inspector Norse’ and ‘Strandbar’. Highlight ‘Johnny and Mary’, featuring Bryan Ferry is eerily still by comparison; the quietly reflective eye at the centre of a party tailored to make you forget.

Chosen Track – Delorean Dynamite

  1. The Knife – Shaken Up Versions

The sound of The Knife’s dying breath, their final live show down on record. Their own brand of left field electronica always felt totally organic, their evolution always to be expected, and here they reimagine several tracks with the benefit of hindsight. Always grabbing you by the coattails is a distinctive, off-kilter groove rising ramshackle from the primordial soup; “Stay Out Here” and “Silent Shout” are throbbing, heartbeat techno, “Got 2 Let U” becomes a futuristic burlesque and several tracks get the tribal treatment. A record fit to soundtrack their own leaving party.

Chosen Track – Silent Shout (Shaken Up Version)

  1. Fka Twigs – LP1

Twigs seems post-human, and futuristic as her neo-R&B may be, it never lacks for a human touch. Its heart is the vocal, Tahliah Barnett (Twigs) is at times painfully human, baring her soul in a voice somewhere between sensual reality and electronic otherworldliness. And it does push at the boundaries of humanity and sexuality in music; how the skittish, skeletal “Pendulum” can somehow be deeply carnal combined with that vocal, how “Numbers” takes the woman scorned R&B trope and turns it into something slinking, delicate, until that high note reveals its power. It’s the most ambitious and spectacular debut of recent years, and one worthy of every plaudit.

Chosen Track: Kicks


Top Tracks

  1. Azealia Banks – Desperado

Azealia breaths her brand of dirty fire over a beat and hook borrowed from MJ Cole; as vital and grimy as anything coming out of London this year.

  1. Future Islands – A Dream of You and Me

Perfect, rousing synthpop, conducted by Samuel Herring’s whisky-soaked tenor bawl. Wilfully retro it has all the ingredients of a guilty pleasure but with none of the guilt.


  1. The Wytches – Gravedweller

A psychotic, paranoid surf-punk romp as dark as its name would suggest. Above trademark whammy bar guitar vocalist Kristian Bell screams “You’re scared of the dark/you’re scared of the darkness”, and The Wytches are why.

  1. Dark Sky – Rainkist (Marcel Dettmann Remix)

It unravels slowly, beginning life as a bass heavy, restrained and soulful track belying Dettmann’s techno credentials. Hi Hats, snares and jangling percussion enter around the three minute mark, yet he keeps you teetering on the brink for thirty more seconds, until that 4/4 kick moves your feet.

  1. The War on Drugs – Red Eyes

It’s perfectly crafted pop, somehow every component part easily falls into place with their rough shod Americana. Drums are relentless, arrangements are thickly textured; synth and chimes lie just under the surface and the vocal is just one of the band’s many borrowed Boss-isms. Euphoric rock n roll.

  1. Howling – Howing (Ame Remix)

Ame deserve an honourable mention for their rework of Sven Vath’s “L’esperanza”, but “Howlng” was surely the peak: a euphoric, late night track in the mould of Orbital’s “Belfast” or 808 State’s “Pacific State”.  It builds slowly, adds layers, and by the end will have you hugging whoever’s nearest.

  1. The Growlers – Chinese Fountain

Lo-fi disco sounds like an oxymoron, given the sparky sheen of the former. But The Growlers pull it off with aplomb and with a knowing wink: “Isn’t techno so shitty/even disco sounds punk”.

  1. Theo Parrish – Footwork

That there is so little to it for the first two and a half minutes is part of its charm. It’s that tiny one-two two-inch punch, a deep but danceable bass melody, jittery drums and the exhortation to “let me see your footwork”. Synth stabs at the mid-point are just the cherry on the cake.

  1. Caribou – Our Love

The title track from his excellent new album, Caribou weaves the customary magic around his own ethereal voice. Soaring strings float along with the first half of the arrangement, yet the track still flirts with ‘banger’ status as he reworks its entire DNA to end on two minutes of increasingly chaotic techno.

  1. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Robes (feat. Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt)

Madlib’s sampling of jazzman Lenny White’s “Street Dreamer” makes this track, giving it the woozy feel of a summer afternoon, just before a kush coma. Tight verses from three rappers at the top of their game smack of honesty beneath the customary bravado, Earl’s off kilter delivery contrasting with Gibbs’ machine gun precision.


5 gigs

Paqua – Soup Kitchen

Foxygen – Ruby Lounge

The Wytches – Deaf Institute

DZ Deathrays  – Night and Day Cafe

Deltron 3030 – West Holts Stage, Glastonbury


John Platt

John was raised between Mum's Motown and Dad's Hawkwind, and likes words almost as much as music. Below are some carefully chosen words about some music John particularly likes.